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To Ms. Neville's Class:

I like the way you designed your robot to look a little bit like humans.
Most people feel that it is easier to talk to a robot if it reminds them
of a human. The space station is designed for humans, and so robots that
can move and do things the way that humans do have an advantage. Here at
NASA there is the Robonaut project that is designing a robot that looks
like a human-like upper body (including arms, hands, fingers, and a head)
so that it can use the same tools, doors, and parts of the station that
humans do.

One thing you might think about is other shapes the robot might be. Can
you think of advantages for making the robot a different shape? What if it
was smaller? What if it was larger? What if it had more arms or fewer arms
or legs or wheels? Remember that robots don't need to look like humans, so
you can make it look like any animal or machine that you can think of,
even one that is only in your imagination!

How tall are your robots? What tools do they have? What kinds of things
can they do because they have computers in them? One important part of a
design is telling other people what you did. You might want to put labels
on your drawings to show what the parts are, or show how big it is by
putting measurements on it.

For Sam's design, I have a few questions: In space, and on the space
station, everything floats. Your robot has propellers, which means that it
can move around even if it floating. I wonder, though, what the tank
treads might be used for. You might consider replacing them with some
other way of moving the robot around. Can you think of other ways that
people or animals move? How does an orangutan move? How about a spider?
How does a fly walk on walls?

For the class' design, I have different questions: I like how carefully
you designed the arms, including the joints and pincers. You might think
about why your robot has three joints. Fewer joints is lighter, so two
might be better, but there is an advantage to having more joints. Can you
think of what they might be? Can you think of disadvantages to having too
many joints? What kinds of jobs will your robot do? Can your robot do them
all if it has pincers? What can you do with your hand that the robot can't
do with pincers? Since everything floats in space, how will the wheels
work? If wheels need to be on the floor (or walls or ceiling) to work, how
will you make sure they stay there? Or, are there different ways of moving

For Adam's design, I wonder: How does the robot move around? Can it walk
in space? Could it run? Do you know how people move around when there is
very little gravity? Things that are bullet-proof are usually heavy. A
heavy robot could hurt the astronauts if it bumped into them, or break
things if it hit part of the space station. How could you make sure those
things don't happen? Could you think of a reason that the robot doesn't
need to be bullet-proof? What do the propellers look like? Your robot has
pointy things on its head. How do you make sure they don't hurt people?
Feel free to ask us more questions. The best way to solve a problem is to
really understand it. Keep up the good work!

-- Salvatore Domenick Desiano
Research Scientist


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